What has been most disheartening to me is the glee with which
the rape of Olive's tax base has been pursued by the other Towns
in the Onteora District and the County. If Woodstock and Shandakan
would expend as much energy in fostering their own tax bases perhaps
they would be better able to bear their own share of the burden.
For example, Woodstock made the choice to spurn expansion of the
old Grand Union market, to spurn the advances of Marriott and
any other developer who sought to build something of substance.
More power to Woodstock and their love of open space and small
town charm...why give up anything when they can come take Olive's
Perhaps we need to look at other large parcel candidates in the
Onteora District, like the Belleayre Ski Center...how would Shandakan
like that? Are all the Towns in Ulster County sharing the tax
base of Ulster where the HV Mall and all the big box stores are
shoehorned into a compact strip? Sounds like a large parcel to
There are many ironies in this situation. By invoking the Large
Parcel issue, the School Board has sunk any hope of seeing a budget
passed in Olive, ever, so now they want to pass the hot potato.
The school district gets no benefit from this controversy, it
only suffers. No additional revenue is raised, and Olive's loss
will be faintly felt in reductions in the tax bills of the other
towns, yet Olive will get a massive wedgie right where it hurts.
Of course, I am seeing this as a resident of Olive, but I am also
a former resident of Shandakan and Woodstock. After IBM left I
experienced a significant drop in income from my sales as an artist.
By 1996 I was hurting, and relocating from Rosendale to 'low-tax'
Olive really enabled me to stay in New York, as opposed to going
to North Carolina or Virginia. Olive's low tax status has been
under continual threat since I moved here, first from the City
of New York and their attempt to lower their assessment around
the reservoir, and now this Large Parcel rape. The squeeze is
on and seeing the glee of our 'neighbors' is distressing.
Onerous taxes will continue until structural changes are made
in funding education. Perhaps the school board should look to
the coal and steel industries for their next initiative: declare
bankruptcy, void labor contracts, pension and healthcare commitments
and sell the schools. The Large Parcel act was designed to prevent
tax fluctuations on large capital installations, like power plants,
whose values could be manipulated by an Enron style management.
Its use on a reservoir in Olive, which covers more than half our
town, is a move worthy of Enron itself.
Dear Editor, The Supervisor of Woodstock stood before the Board
of Education numerous times crying, “Fair and Equal!”
He even duped the Supervisor of Shandaken into making it a duet.
If the School Board’s decision to enact the Large Parcel
Bill was to level the playing fields with regard to school taxes,
what will happen now that citizens within Woodstock who pay more
taxes to Saugerties and Kingston are now crying, “Fair and
Equal!” to their own Town Board. Should they now take their
“pound of flesh” or “bucket of water”
from Olive’s former reservoir or will Mr. Wilber figure
a way to redistribute tax money to make Woodstock’s school
taxes “ Fair and Equal!”
Did Mr. Cross and Mr. Wilber never hear of the old saying, “People
in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones?” When Ulster
County’s Real Property Office was asked about Shandaken’s
last reval, the answer was, “I think it was in the seventies.
I have been here eighteen years and it hasn’t been done
within that time period.” How can Shandaken with an archaic
tax assessment base and with 75% of its state land under-assessed,
point fingers at Olive and cry, “Fair and Equal?”
Last year Olive negotiated a higher assessment of the Ashokan
Reservoir and rigorously initiated a town-wide reval to keep up
with Woodstock’s assessment that was done in 1992, and updated
twice, and with Hurley that does a yearly update. Will the Onteora
School Board now direct its attention to Shandaken as the weakest
tax link of the District?
How about the Towns, not the school district, doing the business
of the towns? Next year the Board of Education should avoid the
option of the Large Parcel Bill; stop meddling in the Home Rule
of the towns and get back to setting Educational Policy! Karen
There are a number of issues scattered throughout the Olive Press
of November 11, 2004 that I wish to comment on and perhaps correct.
The editorial begins with a "body slam" from the past
when the writer refers to the "stolen election" [of
2000]. What part of the Constitution, Mr./Madam editorial writer
do you not understand? Is it the electoral process [which is left
to the several states]; or the single date for selecting electors;
or perhaps the part you think the court(s) should play in the
actual selection. The US Supreme Court did nothing other than
to tell a lower [meddling] court to follow the Constitution. I
should be delighted to review the Constitution with you in a public
forum sir/madam, and let public embarrassment convince you that
the 2000 election was indeed "on the level".
Then you refer to Ulster County's "ancient political dynasty"
soon passing into oblivion. The dynasty is obviously the UC Republican
Party which by it's succession each election cycle has risen quite
often well above mediocrity. Gee, I was accused of attacking a
family when I referred to them as a dynasty. What changed and
where is my accuser lately?
Now on to other more important concerns such as a Police Commissioner
giving much free time and direction. Who cares where a volunteer
lives or votes when that person contributes to a community without
compensation and the contribution is a sharing of talent and experience?
So the person "fibbed" a little when stating that he
"is" a police officer. I lied to get into the Navy at
age 16 in 1943. What should happen to me? Lose my citizenship?
Sharing is a gift you give to yourself.
Then we have Stacey Banks of Woodstock singing the praises of
Supervisor Jeremy Wilber and the Onteora School Board for reaching
into the pockets of Olive [and Hurley] taxpayers only because
they could under the "Large Parcel" act. I would ask
Ms. Banks and Supervisor Wilber if I as a resident of Olive might
vote in a Woodstock election; the old "taxation without representation"
thing, don't you know? Ms. Banks allows that a house in Olive
with a market value of $100,000 should be taxed at the same level
that a $100,000 home in Woodstock. Not so fast Ms. Banks. The
reservoir which NYC pays taxes on requires no public services
as your $100,000 home in Woodstock does and has no students attending
Onteora. Likewise the businesses in Woodstock that require Police
and Fire response, street maintenance and a park or two. (Anyone
know of a fire or robbery in the reservoir? NYC doesn't even have
insurance and you do). The asessed value of the reservoir with
it's commensurate tax(es) causes the real estate and school taxes
to be lower in Olive which is common all over the country. In
fact a prospective new home buyer inquires as to schools, shopping
malls, churches and TAXES when the real estate agent shows his
offerings Ms. Banks. I can see your expression when your r.e.
agent explains that "this town shares it's tax base income
with East Gedunk, the next town over". Your reply?, "Oh
my, that's not fair". Exactly.
One of these days soon this joke will end whether it's Olive's
[and Hurley's] withdrawal from Onteora or a court intervenes.
As for the Onteora School Board; your days are numbered as you
come up for re-election. Those especially from Olive who "represented"
Shandaken, Woodstock and Marbletown and led by a "biased"
lawyer are targeted for extinction. You all now have the "Hutzpah"
to point to the victims and declare yourselves not responsible
for this debacle. You even suggest [led by the lawyer] that another
group or [political] entity take over where you left off. If you,
the school board are not happy with what you did you don't need
anyone else to "shill" the game for you. Just back off
the large parcel and do it the old way. We can live with the usual
annual increase even if it takes two votes to "get it right".
Do you folks not know that politicians [which the school board
has become] are noted for creating commissions, authority(s),
associations and other "insulating" types of organizations?
Try barking at the Governor for the MTA ineptness and you will
be informed that the MTA is an independent public organization.
(Incidentally we pay an MTA surcharge on our phone bills. When
is the last time you took a subway in Olive?) This is your school
board attempting to transfer the responsibility. They say now
that they should not have to make those choices. Why didn't they
say that prior to invoking the Large Parcel Act?
Remember folks. This is the same board that implied that we, their
constituants are responsible for a short budget, depriving the
children and cheating the school system. This is what lawyer/politicians
do; blame the victim(s). So, under the circumstances we must reject
the next proposed budget [both times] while working the court(s)
and electing Olive board members who have Olive resident's rights
and equality in their interests or establish the "Olive/Hurley"
Central School District. Forget whatever relationship you have
with the Olive "Benedict Arnolds" who now appear as
scared rabbits in a forest fire. They have had more impact on
the residents of Olive [in various ways] than any "real"
politician of whatever office. In fact our other elected representatives
are decent, reliable public servants.
I respectfully decline consideration for any elected position
as I prefer being the "marksman", not the "target".
Glenn T. Anderson
I most certainly do not want to get into the legalities of the
large parcel Law that has been implemented on the town of Olive.
However after digesting what I have read, the law simply is not
intended for parcels such as the Ashokan Reservoir. The town itself
had been taken over and subsequently destroyed by New York City
in order to build the reservoir. However, it now appears that
adjoining towns, as well as Ulster County, have implemented the
destruction of the people that live here or have moved here to
make a better life knowing that there could never be much development
as far as a town or business opportunities, due to the massive
land holdings of New York City. They accepted this fact due to
a lower tax commitment.
Now that the Large Parcel Law has been implemented by the Onteora
School Board and the Ulster County Legislature I feel compelled
to make my feelings known. It appears to me that in an effort
to lower the tax base for other towns (and not by much - I still
have an interest in Woodstock) the surrounding communities as
well as the school board and the Ulster County Legislature decided
to remove about 60 percent of the town of Olive's tax base to
satisfy their own needs. Please keep in mind that this NYC land
cannot ever be developed, and cannot be sold unless NYC sells
its reservoir system. We are also under strict control of NYC
DEP, which patrols our neighborhood quite frequently (what a benefit
that is.) Apparently the surrounding communities, Ulster County
and, for that matter, New York State, think this is acceptable.
I have heard people say that we have been given ample time (one
year) for the town to get our "house in order." However
we should not and cannot, as a town, accept that people outside
our community think or dictate that our house is out of order.
I suggest that the interpretation of the Large Parcel Law is out
of order. I am alarmed and dismayed that the surrounding communities
and the Ulster County Legislature have decided that this is fair
to this community. I, for one, do not want to allow the State,
Ulster County and the surrounding communities to financially destroy
Olive and take away 60 percent of its tax base. Please remember
most of the reservoir lies on top of the former town and surrounding
hamlets. With all due respect to our elected officials (state,
county and local), we need to stop the implementation of band
aids such as this; stop pitting town against town and start doing
the job of fiscally managing expenditures and, at the state level,
implement true school tax reform. This would alleviate the present
"taxation without representation" of second homeowners
or people who own income property (why do we have such high rents
I wonder?) who cannot vote on the school budget but most certainly
have to pay the taxes. You would have the support of just about
all the communities in the state instead of the misguided and
destructive tax implementation we now have.
This is not just about equality in the tax structure, this is
about a bill that should never have been applied to a reservoir;
is causing extreme hardship to a community where the reservoir
is located, and is intended to satisfy some Ulster County constituents
for a year. When taxes are due to go up next year I am sure they
will find something else. I propose a Small Parcel Tax Bill. How
about it everyone, lets take the shopping centers and larger tax
based companies (Ametek Rotron, Fleet etc..) away from the towns
they are in and put them in the general fund for everyone to benefit.
I think many other communities might be in trouble, but hey why
not? Look at what just happened to the Town of Olive - anything
is possible. I doubt this would happen though since a large majority
of votes come from these communities and would most certainly
be the demise of any politically oriented individual. From what
I have seen of this whole issue, it is politics as usual with
our elected officials who do not realistically address the issues
but hide them, or at least cover them up for awhile. Americans
are great at forgetting. We are all familiar with the saying "rob
Peter to pay Paul." Well Peter was just robbed, Paul was
just paid and my question now is who will be the next Peter?
Robert J. Croissant
Dear Editor, This letter is directed towards the person/people
that stole the Alberta blue spruce from our property. I hope that
the tree dies as the person who took it certainly doesn’t
My huband and I bought this piece of property about 7 years ago.
We were very excited about living here as the area is quite beautiful.
We built our home and moved in, in December 1997. Since that time
we have had people dump their trash on the road, trespass to hunt,
jack deer from the top of our driveway and just disrespect things
that are not theirs to disrespect! Now we have someone pulling
over on the side of the road and walking onto our land and digging
up and stealing a tree from us! Isn’t that just great!!!!
Well let me just say to that person who has the “SET”
that you are a piece of crap! Where do you get off stealing a
tree that my parents gave to us when we first moved in? You are
probably the same person who threatened to shoot my dogs if you
couldn’t hunt my property. Might I suggest that the next
time you are looking for a tree, that you go to a nursery and
buy one like most honest decent people would do, not drive around
on country roads and scout out other people’s things to
take. It is most disheartening that we live in an age where anything
In closing I again would like to express my utter disgust at the
person who did this and if I find out who you are I will be contacting
you! May deer eat every one of your plants and termites invade
your house!!! J. Scott
There was a statement made in a recent article, Schanck Throws
in Towel, October 28, of the Olive Press, that indicated (again)
that I questioned the handling of the Olive Child Safety Seat
Program. Other comments I have heard were that I wanted to blow
this very important program “out of the water.”
Once and for all, I would like to respond to the misconceptions
that have been handed out to the public in answer to my research
into this program.
I originally addressed the Town Board and gave them numerous documents
concerning the program which I found on the State Department of
Transportation’s web site. Among other things, the site
listed the Town as having a Child Safety Seat Program that was
available six days per week between the hours of 2-4 PM
My concerns were that this program was made possible by a grant
that had been issued in September, 2003. When I brought this issue
to the Town Board, it was March 2004. No one that I spoke with
even knew the service existed. And it was discovered that very
same evening that others had tried to contact someone with knowledge
about child safety seats when a child’s safety could not
be properly re-installed. I still have the printouts that I presented
to the Board that night, so Mr. LaMonda’s corrected documents
(which he presented at the next meeting) only did what I was asking
them to do in the first place - get things corrected and the word
out that this service was being made available to Olive residents.
I did question the necessity of having duplicate services and
the reason why they trained someone other than our full-time Police
Officer. It just made sense to me that our full-time officer would
be more available to offer the services. I NEVER suggested that
the Town should NOT offer these important safety checks.
It’s really unsettling that anything of perceived controversy
brought before the Town Board gets labeled as politics. Are you
that defensive that you cannot admit when something may be wrong
and need to be addressed? Or is it because for so many years no
one has ever questioned how you handle things?
I know first hand how things are handled. I’ve been there.
Our town board meetings are actually pretty sad. It’s so
boring because all discussion has been done before the meeting.
It’s just a formality, so folks don’t even bother
to come. Not even the press covers our meetings. They get the
news after the meeting by making a phone call. If there was nothing
the town thinks was important, nothing gets written. When a few
folks do come, comments whispered from the podium are: “Wonder
what they want?” or “it’s election time...”
I’ve attended illegal private meetings (all board members
present) with groups of homeowners in a place convenient for them.
Why can’t these folks come to the regular board meetings
so discussion is open to ALL residents of Olive. Maybe the situation
is something that needs addressing in other parts of town, but
regardless, deserves to be handled in an open fashion. If the
board needs to discuss any topic at length, then well they should.
But it should ALL be in public, with ample notice so the public
For too many years, this town board would rather not have any
participation from the outside. They would rather keep things
quiet - which is why we are paying higher taxes, still don’t
have a cell tower and some of our roads have been closed by NYC.
Sorry, but I for one, think we have stayed quiet too long.
West Shokan, NY
Chris Johansen advances a noteworthy observation in his letter
as published in the November 11 edition which, if accurate, casts
the Commissioner Schanck affair in a new and different light.
In all of the smoke and mirrors of the allegations exchanged between
Schanck, town board members, the supervisor and the Johansens
attendant appearances of impropriety and political motive suggested
themselves, it has never been demonstrated that Mr. Schanck possessed
a valid Florida driver's license. If this is, indeed, a fact then
it changes the basic complexion of the case.
Since Robert Schanck served the commission on a volunteer basis,
compensation, his service was of obvious benefit to the town and
it's scarcely surprising that town officials might bend a bit
on the issue of his residence - as long as he technically met
the criteria of having a local address as "primary residence."
His contributions to the foundation of the Olive Police Force
are a matter of record and in no way diminish the contributions
of Robert Adsit and Richard Ostrander, both of whom have been
honored by the town board.
One can also attribute legitimate concern on Johansen's part,
as a local businessman, a former peace officer and as a citizen,
over the issue of Schanck's availability to serve the post at
any given time, without even a trace of political motivation.
A desire to restructure the local police department in the model
of other agencies whose proportions and functions
may be unsuited to local needs would, however, suggest a political
perspective but it must be pointed out that Mr. Johansen has not
explicitly demanded such changes. Meanwhile, the underlying question
of Schanck's actual availability assumes importance in proportion
to any demonstration of his lack of it. It has, thusfar, been
unclear as to how much of his time the commissioner spent here
However, if records of a voter registration and driver's license
in another state emerge - and, until produced, these remain merely
allegations and have been reported in these pages as such - this
would directly challenge the legitimacy of Schanck's claim of
a "primary residence" in Olive. If factual, it would,
in effect, render him ineligible for a position he has already
No one ever seemed to dispute the fact that Commissioner Schanck
maintained separate residences in both Saugerties and in Sarasota
County, Florida. The question came down to "primary residence"
and a wink and a nod. Appearances, at very least, were mildly
deceptive. The benefits to the town in the situation were readily
apparent if one looked beyond a glance but how it may have benefited
Mr. Schanck, beyond the gratification of further serving a community
he had worked in and lived in for many years, has never been credibly
West Shokan, NY